Yoga pose of the month: Release tension with Reed Pose with side bends

Muscle tension can accumulate in the neck and shoulders, especially during busy periods. Relieve that tension with this side bend

Yoga pose of the month: Release tension with Reed Pose with side bends

Source: Web exclusive: October 2010

As summer recedes into our distant collective memory, October brings the richness of colour and the joy of family gatherings. Yes, it’s a busy time as we prepare for Thanksgiving and, later in the month, Halloween. Reed Pose with side bends is the perfect October pose to help release accumulated ‘shoulder’ tension from all planning, shopping, organizing and prepping for these happy events.

River reeds are very strong and extremely flexible while staying firmly rooted in the ground. This is exactly the image and experience we want and need as we tackle the extra responsibilities that lie ahead. Apart from all the benefits listed below, Reed Pose with side bends will relieve muscle tension in the neck and shoulders (which is where most of us carry our responsibilities). Because it’s exceptionally grounding, the pose also helps to improve focus and concentration (the antidote for mental stress and an overactive mind) so we can stay in the moment and fully enjoy the upcoming festivities.

Top 5 benefits:

‘ Releases muscle tension in neck, shoulders and upper back
‘ Loosens and stretches shoulder joints, improving range of motion
‘ Stretches and lengthens arms and torso and enhances waistline
‘ Lengthens spine and improves flexibility
‘ Opens ribs cage, improving ability to breathe more deeply

Off-the-mat suggestions:

‘ In the bedroom before dressing
‘ In the bathroom before taking a shower
‘ At your desk at home or work
‘ In the garden or on the front porch
‘ Wherever and whenever you feel tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back


Certain rotator cuff conditions; recent neck, shoulder or back injuries or surgery

The steps:

1. Stand with feet together or slightly apart and feel the ground underneath you.
2. Take a full deep belly breath and draw it right up into your upper chest. Repeat twice more to fully ground yourself.
3. On the next inhalation, circle arms over your head and interlace fingers. Bring arms as close to your ears as possible.
4. As you exhale, bend over to the right, keeping torso square.
5. Breathe for 3 to 6 breaths or more, bending more deeply with every exhalation.
6. To complete, bring torso upright as you inhale, and as you exhale, circle arms back down.
7. Repeat on the other side.

Bonus: Practiced regularly as part of your Kitchen Yoga regime, this pose will actually improve and enhance your waistline so you can indulge (modestly!) in the upcoming seasonal goodies without feeling guilty.

Yoga helps remind us that we live in our bodies and not our minds, so next time you’re in your kitchen, pause, take a moment to ground and breathe, and slip in a Kitchen Yoga pose or two. It’s the easiest way to keep flexible, mobile and strong, especially for busy people who are short on time.

Kitchen Yoga is available at in both print and ebook versions.